News / Asia

Japan's Abe Condemned for Visit to Controversial War Shrine

Japan's Abe Condemned for Visit to Controversial War Shrinei
December 26, 2013 10:35 AM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine Thursday, sparking outrage in China and South Korea and further damaging Japan's already frosty relations with the region.
Daniel Schearf
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine Thursday, sparking outrage in China and South Korea and further damaging Japan's already frosty relations with the region. Yasukuni shrine honors the country's nearly 2.5 million war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, JapanYasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Abe said his visit was a personal one to honor the spirits of the dead and was not meant to hurt Chinese or Korean sentiments. He said his presence was meant to show Japan was against war.
Nonetheless, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang responded sharply to Abe's action.
Qin said the Chinese government wished to express strong outrage and protest, and solemnly condemns Japanese leaders ruthlessly trampling the feelings of Chinese people, and people of other war-affected Asian countries, and bluntly challenging historical justice and human conscience.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an un-named government official saying the shrine visit would have diplomatic repercussions.
Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine

  • Shinto shrine built in 1869 to enshrine the souls of around 2.5 million war dead
  • Commemorates 14 men convicted of war crimes after Japan's World War II surrender
  • Seen by many Asians as a symbol of Japan's brutal imperialistic era
  • Has become a rallying point for some conservative Japanese lawmakers
Since taking office a year ago, Abe has sought summit meetings with the new leaders in China and South Korea. However, both Beijing and Seoul have shunned the Japanese prime minister, blaming him for trying to re-interpret Japan's colonial and war time history.
Japan's neighbors are also concerned about Abe's plans to change the country’s pacifist constitution to expand the role of Japan's self-defense forces.
South Korea's Minister of Culture, Yoo Jin-ryong, read a short statement on live TV on behalf of the government, in which he said Abe’s trip to the Yasukuni shrine shows his incorrect understanding of history. He also said that the visit was an anachronistic action which damages fundamental stability and cooperation in Northeast Asia.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows beside a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest to pay respect for the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Visitors hang fortune blessing papers at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.

Abe is the first sitting prime minister to visit the shrine since 2006, when Junichiro Koizumi went to pay respects. Koizumi’s frequent trips to Yasukuni fueled anti-Japanese sentiment and rioting in China.
To help repair relations, Abe declined to visit the shrine during his first term in office (2006-2007) or in August to mark the anniversary of Japan's surrender.
It is not clear why he chose to visit Yasakuni now when Japan's relations in Northeast Asia are at a low point over territorial disputes and historical grievances.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo expressed disappointment with Abe's action and said it will worsen tensions with Japan's neighbors.
VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: liu from: china
January 10, 2014 9:56 AM
as a chinese, i wanna say that there is no chance

by: Yoshi from: Spporo
December 29, 2013 4:51 AM
Being afraid of known to few foreigners, I would like to tell you how come fourteen war criminals have been enrolled into the list of Yasukuni shrine. More than thirt years after the end of WWII, it was done by Yasukuni shrine secretly and privately responding to the requests of war crimnals' survivers. It was probably conducted with no commitment of Japanese government because Yasukuni had already been moved from state-run to corporate body in 1946. It has been a kind of excuse for government to decline to make Yasukuni exclude war criminals from its worshipping list.

Anyway the most important things for us Japanese, especially for Japanese government is surely to make it clear by ourselves who were responsible for and should be accused for the WWII. Disappointingly we have war criminals only ruled by Tokyo trials conducted unilaterally by alied countries but not by our own rules. Abe has to make it clear regarding this issue before visiting Yasukun. I can not help telling Abe's gandfather, Kishi was a trade miminter during the war and accused as A grade war criminals, but he was bailed allegedy as a trade off for deplomatic deals benefitting the allys thereafter.

by: Double Standards
December 29, 2013 3:30 AM
No big deal.It is an Oriental practice to worship the war deads.The Chinese have been doing the same.Every year in January,the Chinese commerorate the death of the thousands of Chinese soldiers who died during the invasion of North Vietnam in 1979.It were these soldiers who had committed butchery,rape and attrocities against innocent Vietnamese civilians.The Vietnamese government is not happy about it but is too powerless to condemn or protest against it.How could you invade a country,lay waste to 6 provinces and call it a "defensive war", and glorify it? Japanese crimes were things of the past and the Japanese have learnt their lesson,that is why they adopted the Pacifist Constitutions.It is the present Chinese territorial ambitions,which are real and threatening the peace,stability and prosperity of Asia at the moment.The Chinese have been butchering the Tibetans,Uighurs and Vietnamese in the thousands,so they are in no positon to criticise anyone for war attrocities unless they stop these murderous acts themselves first.For now,an economically and militarily strong Japan is the only hope and deterent left for Asia.Without the Japanese defiance and resolve,it is just a matter of time before China take over the whole region by force.America let the Chinese take away the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2013 right under their nose even when both countries have a Joint Defence Pact.How do you expect Japan to rely on America's commitments then? Japan is better off relying on itself for its own defence.The people of Vietnam and the Philippines solemnly pay great respect to you,Mr Abe,Sir.You are the light at the end of our tunnels.Down with Chinese imperialism !
In Response

by: Anonymous from: j
January 09, 2014 2:11 AM

by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Canada
December 28, 2013 9:12 AM
Let us hope that Japan finds its military position in a non-imperialist strategy. Japan can have a strong military for its country without drawing upon negative times in its past.

by: ron from: japan
December 26, 2013 10:19 PM
it is wrong to call Yasukuni War has been named by bad intention.why don't you think any prim ministers to do so? the point is to the criminals there, I think. it is sure that no one respects the criminals in japan. We pray for the peploes who have been killed in all wars .
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 29, 2013 4:15 AM
I agree no one respect war crimials so that war criminals should never be worshipped in any countries. They should be separated from the enrollment list of Yasukuni shrine.

by: Welder from: China
December 26, 2013 8:51 PM
No one can condone Japan's aggression against China and other Asia countries in the WWII. And the blood killers are hornored in the Yasukuni shrine by someone like Mr. Abe. Think about that.
In Response

by: No Tonsland from: Japan
December 26, 2013 11:08 PM
Please correct your post; 'China and other Asia countries' is wrong. "China and Chinese living in other Asian counries" is correct. See the recent territorial issue in the South China sea. Other ASEAN countries ally Japan, not China.
In Response

by: ron from: japan
December 26, 2013 10:25 PM
your big wrong. all japanese is like abe !? really yo think so too? we not like abe at all

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 26, 2013 8:49 PM
I have to tell you, especially to Chinese people those who probably can not reach Japanese media, that their major stances for Abe's visit to Yasukuni are skeptical and unfavorable reflecting dominant thoughts of Japanese general people. We certainly have honor to victims but not to war criminals. War criminals, besides who defined war criminals and which countires belong to, lead also Japanese people to death in battle fields as well as enemies.You should know there is a lot of voice in Japan that criminals should be excluded from Yasukuni shrine, then PM can fairly visit Yasukuni. Unfortunately some reasons have been preventing Japanese government from making such a decision. I hope neighboring nations urge Japanese government to do so. Thank you.
In Response

by: ron from: Japan
December 26, 2013 10:20 PM
you good !!

by: Joe from: Australia
December 26, 2013 8:21 PM
There is a key reason why Japan is not viewed by the rest of Asia in the same way that Germany is viewed by the rest of Europe. While both have a similarly vile wartime atrocities against civilians, Germany acknowledged that they committed unthinkable crimes, they taught their young about it, and resolved to never go down the same path again. Japan however, routinely denies their crimes against humanity (which in many circumstances were even more extreme than the Nazis), whitewashed these crimes in their history textbooks, and is now led by a right winger who is intent on remilitarising the country. Imagine the fallout if Angela Merkel went to pay her respects to the remains of Hitler (which instead of being destroyed by Soviets was placed in a shrine honoring their Nazi past).
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 26, 2013 9:59 PM
Who could compare what Hitler have done including holocaust with Japanese military progression to Asia?

by: mark royal from: nyc
December 26, 2013 8:10 PM
How does this rate to Reagan's visit to the Germany gravesite which contained the graves of 49 members of the Waffen-ss? At least Abe was visiting his own people.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 26, 2013 11:11 PM
Good point.

by: Michael M from: Arlington, Va
December 26, 2013 9:02 AM
Is this visit any more reprehensible than China's president celebrating Mao's birthday after that monster killed 70 million? People who live in glass houses.......
In Response

by: Da Shun Mao from: Japan
December 26, 2013 1:01 PM
I agree. Now, very few people, even Chinese, pay attention to Mao's anniversary compared to Abe's. It's really funny! Chinese people! before provoking Japan, resolve your serious air pollution by learning Japanese technologies and excellent cultures. Tokyo's air is much clearer than that in Beijing...literally and politically.
Comments page of 2

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